Tools of the Trade: Goodreads

I’m starting a new feature here that I’m calling “tools of the trade”. This will be where I discuss places and things that help me in my quest to read as many great books as possible before I die. The first one up is a website and discussion forum called Goodreads.

I joined Goodreads a while ago, and frankly haven’t spent much time on it, so I’m still in the learning process. It is an online gathering of readers. You can put in the books you’ve read, rate them, organize them by shelves, get recommendations based on you previous ratings, but to my mind, the absolute best part is when someone gives you a great book recommendation, you can go on there, find the book, and rate it as “to-read”. Then the next time you’re looking for a new book (and you’ve already read all of my recommendations, naturally) you log on, and click on your “to-read” shelf, and voila: no more book recos missed because they leaked out of your brain.

Incidentally, I think the art of recommending books is much like the art of giving good presents. You know those people who conscientiously, every year for your birthday or special holiday or no reason at all, give you some lovely and thoughtful gift that reflects none of your tastes, interests, hobbies, or space availability? (I am not pointing any fingers – I come from a family of extraordinarily good gift givers, then married one, which is both awesome for my own selfish gain and incredibly intimidating when it is time to reciprocate.) I think many book recommendations are like that. People tend to assume that just because they loved something and it changed their life, then you are also going to love it and it’s going to change your life, too. Never mind that they love a good tear-jerker romance and you are more into witty police procedurals.

But back to Goodreads! There is also a social aspect of it, where you can make friends, or follow your favorite authors, or join discussion forums. I haven’t done much with this part of it, but I’d like to get more involved. I found the website just a little intimidating while learning to navigate it, but the more time I spend on it, the easier I find it. And as I said earlier, I absolutely love that I can save my book recommendations. It’s also visually organized, which works very well for me.

Is anyone out there on Goodreads? If so, be my friend –  my username is lectorsbooks (creative, I know). Are there people in your life who, when they recommend a book, you run the other way? Anyone whose recommendations you trust implicitly?